Find Funding: How to Apply for Grants from the National Trust Preservation Fund

Posted on: January 14th, 2013 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 5 Comments

Written by Brendan McCormick, Grants & Awards Assistant

Interior of the Eygyptian Theatre, Coos Bay, Oregon. Credit: Oregonkat, flickr
Interior of the Egyptian Theatre, Coos Bay, Oregon.

Fun fact: In 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded more than $1 million to nearly 200 projects across the country through its small grant program. This annual program supports local preservation organizations’ efforts to preserve and protect important places in their communities.

In the Grants office, we field calls and questions throughout the year about our grants program from people eager to do similar work in their communities. So we compiled a quick Q&A to help guide potential applicants. Read on to learn how a grant from the National Trust might be available to kickstart a preservation project in your hometown.

Q. What type of projects does the National Trust fund?

A. The majority of our funding comes from the National Trust Preservation Fund which supports preservation planning and educational projects.

  • Planning projects include obtaining professional expertise in areas such as architecture, archaeology, engineering, preservation planning, land-use planning, and law.
  • Education projects relate to preservation activities aimed at the public such as interpretation and outreach.

The National Trust is particularly interested in educational programs aimed at reaching new audiences. As a general rule we do not fund acquisition or construction costs.

Q. Who is eligible for a grant from the National Trust?

A. Nonprofit organizations and public agencies that are members of the National Trust at the Forum or Main Street level are eligible to apply for grants.

If you are a homeowner seeking funding for your historic house, check out our page for historic homeowners or contact your state historic preservation office (SHPO). If you are not eligible for our grant program, check out your SHPO to see what programs are offered in your state.

Q. Why do I have to be a member of Forum or Main Street to apply for a grant?

A. The Forum and Main Street programs provide tools to help you build a stronger preservation organization by providing access to critical information, special events and member-only resources, and discounts on conferences and training. Joining will help your organization advance its preservation goals. Visit their websites to learn more and join.

Q. How large are your grants?

A. Grants typically range from $2,500-$5,000 and require a dollar-for-dollar match. For example, if you are awarded a $5,000 grant, you need at least an additional $5,000 from other funding sources, and a total project cost of at least $10,000. This match can be a grant from a foundation or other grant-making organization, funds raised from local support, or any other revenue source.

Interior of the Alabama State Capitol building. Credit: Eric Hunt, flickr
Interior of the Alabama State Capitol building.

Q. I heard that there is a fund dedicated to my state. How do I apply for that particular fund?

A. The National Trust Preservation Fund is made up of many endowed funds that are specific to states and/or regions, but all applicants use a common application form. Once an application is received, the Grants office will determine the most appropriate source of available funding.

All you need to worry about is making sure that the project fits the guidelines of the National Trust Preservation Fund program. Browse the full list of states with dedicated funding through the program.

Q. My state doesn't have a dedicated fund. Can I still receive a grant?

A. Yes. We have a number of funds -- also part of our National Trust Preservation Fund program -- that are not restricted to a particular state or region, and can be used to fund projects in any part of the country.

Q. Does the National Trust have any type of emergency funding?

A. We do have a very limited amount of emergency/intervention funding available in extreme circumstances. This funding is restricted to emergency situations when immediate and unanticipated work is needed to save a historic structure, such as when a fire or natural disaster strikes.

This funding is also restricted to nonprofit organizations and public agencies.

Emergency grants typically range from $1,000 to $5,000, but unlike the majority of our grant funding, a cash match is not required for intervention projects.

Q. When can I apply for a grant?

A. There are three annual deadlines for the National Trust Preservation Fund: February 1, June 1, and October 1. There are also special funds with a single deadline each year. Learn more about those special grant opportunities.

Q. How long does it take for me to hear back after applying for a grant?

A. We typically notify applicants of our grant decisions within eight weeks of the application deadline.

Are you ready to apply? Visit the Find Funding page on our website to read our full guidelines and access our online grant application system.

If you have any questions, please contact the Grants office directly. We would be happy to help answer any questions you might have.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

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5 Responses

  1. Anne M. Imhoff

    January 24, 2013

    I am a member of the Waterbury, VT, Historical Society. For the past six years I have been endeavoring to have a one mile universally accessible trail created with interpretive signage, through the 1935-1938 CCC Camp Smith site in the Mt. Mansfield State Forest. This was the largest CCC camp on the east coast and the men built the largest earth filled dam in the world, at that time. The dam is still in use today.

    There are three magnificent 15 foot tall stone fireplaces and chimneys still standing, in very good condition, along with several cement slabs that were the foundation for kitchens. Volunteers and I have cleared much of the of the old barracks road through the camp and we are having a surveyor take sightings to create an accurate map of the area.

    The site is a valuable piece of local, state and I believe national, history that should be preserved for current and future generations.

    The State Dept. of Forest, Parks & Recreation is in support of the project but wants the Historical Society to obtain funding grants. When the Historical Society has obtain sufficient grant monies, the State will begin to proceed with building the trail.

    Is this a project something the National Trust for Historic Preservation might have a grant for? If so, which program would we apply for.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  2. National Trust for Historic Preservation

    January 25, 2013

    Hi Anne,

    Your project sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing it with us. Please direct your questions to grants [at] savingplaces [dot] org. (The email is linked in the blog post as well.) Our crackerjack team will then guide you to the appropriate application.

    Good luck!

    Julia Rocchi
    Managing Editor

  3. John E. Aranza

    January 27, 2013

    The 2nd Presbyterian Church of Chicago
    I would think needs as much help with
    restoration funds as any building in
    America .

    James Renwick designed it yet his Saint
    Parick`s Cathedral ( NYC ) gets more
    attention , and 2nd Pres also has more
    Tiffany windows than any other American
    house of worship.

    Contact Linda Miller , Friends of 2nd
    Presbyterian , 312-504-9862 ,

    Thank you

  4. John E. Aranza

    January 27, 2013

    Comment I see is logged in above .

    Thank you